Eating Authors: Gareth L. Powell

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Gareth L.Powell

Hello and welcome to the special 2012 Christmas Eve (depending on what time you get here) edition of EATING AUTHORS, the weekly blog feature that advises you to not eat too many authors over the holidays.

Our guest today is Gareth L. Powell, and rumor has it that Santa will be bringing him a brand new book! That’s right, his novel Ack-Ack Macaque, based on the award-winning short story of the same name, will be released on Christmas Day, which as it happens, gets to him a bit before our US readers, because Gareth lives in Bristol, in the UK. But the point is, if a copy isn’t already waiting in your stocking, then click on the link because this one has it all, including nuclear-powered Zeppelins and a cigar-chomping monkey!

LMS: Welcome, Gareth. Thanks for spending part of the holidays here. So tell me, when I ask you to recount your most memorable meal, what comes to mind?

GLP: There are many meals I could mention, such as the time I had dinner with (at the time) Interzone co-editor Jetse de Vries, in an Italian restaurant in Chester. We were the only two in there, and it was setup for Valentine’s Day, with a pianist and candles on all the tables. Jetse had just plucked one of my short stories from the slush pile but, for the first half of the meal, as we tried to talk shop, we were talking over the top of this pianist running through his repertoire of cheesy love songs: ‘Lady in Red’; ‘Love Me Tender’; and so on. Finally, after we’d squirmed long enough, he came over and asked us if we wanted him to stop. You can guess our answer.

Another occasion which springs to mind was the time I had dinner on the 25th floor of a hotel in downtown Barcelona, during a business trip. The restaurant had floor-to-ceiling windows that afforded a panoramic view of the city, and the hills surrounding it. The city lights were a comforting sepia yellow. The radio masts on the hills were picked out in red. From where I sat, I could see the lights of planes dropping down over the darkened Mediterranean, to the airport. I was sitting next to a German fantasy fan called Sabine, and we talked about writing and publishing while everyone else at the table talked business. I can’t remember what we ate, but the thing that made the meal memorable for me was the electrical storm that blew up halfway through. Being on the 25th floor, we had a grandstand view of the lightening as it raged over the city, and then slowly moved away, drifting out to sea like a special effect from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Ack-Ack Macaque
The Last Reef

But the most memorable meal I can think of now is one I had at the age of seventeen, sitting in the dust outside a monastery in Southern France with two friends. The place attracted young people from all over Europe, but the catering wasn’t up to much. All the food was donated by local farmers, and I guess they donated the bits of food they couldn’t sell. All the fruit was bruised and overripe. The vegetables were boiled to within an inch of disintegration, and the hot chocolate came in a plastic bowl rather than a cup. The food line was a row of trestle tables under an open roof in the village square. You grabbed a pair of bowls and ran along the line while someone shouted “Allez! Allez!”, and the servers slopped whatever they had into your bowls. Twenty-five years later, I remember the feel of the cheap plastic bowls, the taste of the hot chocolate, and the dry dusty heat of the village square.

Thanks, Gareth. After all, who doesn’t like a big bowl of hot chocolate?

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!


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